PKD Connection Blog

PKD Will Not Beat Me

Mind and body connection

Valen finds her mind and body connection through Pilates.

I firmly believe the power of positivity is why I am still alive and how I’m able to endure and move forward with all of my chronic health issues. Our minds can have significant control over our thoughts and actions, both positive and negative. I have great respect for the mind and body connection and feel that my unique health journey has made me very in tune with my body.

Being in good health does not just mean being physically fit. We must care for our mental health as much as our physical health, as they go hand in hand. I believe that when our mind gives up, our body will follow suit. Due to all of my health complications, I was not athletic growing up. However, I think my competitiveness and will to fight would have made me a great athlete, and in turn, has made me a great patient.

Exercise became a part of my life when my husband Noah and I moved to California and I learned of my love for the great outdoors. Noah and I enjoyed hiking on the endless trails in northern California. The scenery was therapeutic and the terrain was challenging. It wasn’t long until hiking became a passion and it did not feel like exercise anymore. It wound up being a wonderful source of strength, both in mind and body.

Valen enjoys Pilates as a low-impact exercise and alternative to hiking.

Unfortunately, hiking came to a halt after I had a disk herniate. My walking is now limited to flat paths and for short amounts of time. This change was really hard on me. My healthy outlet was abruptly taken away from me and I needed to find something else positive to fill that void.

I then discovered Pilates, which has been a wonderful source of healing. I’ve been doing private one-on-one sessions for several years and it has been a bright light that has helped me adjust to my body’s new normal. Pilates challenges me and allows me to move safely while gaining core and all-over body strength. One of my favorite aspects of the practice is how methodical it is. Each movement coincides with a breath, engaging one’s core and focusing on specific muscles all at the same time. It takes such intense focus that it winds up being an escape for the mind as well. During each hour-long session, I don’t have time to think about any stressors in life as I’m intently focusing on connecting my mind and body with each and every move. Pilates and my instructors have been such a blessing in my life.

Valen at the Sacramento Chapter’s Corks for a Cure fundraiser with her Pilates instructors.

We know stress can have a negative impact on our health, but stress is something that can’t be avoided. However, we can find and incorporate healthy outlets into our routine to help relieve some of the daily stressors that arise from living with chronic health issues. I’ve learned first-hand that by doing so, the mental and physical benefits will carry over and help in our day-to-day lives as a “medical athlete.”

How do you strengthen your mind and body connection?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the fight against PKD

Want to hear more stories like these? Any donation helps the Foundation continue supporting patients and highlighting their stories